Sunday, February 25, 2007

Poor Benny...

I'm hearing some disturbing rumblings among the NHL trade rumor mill - Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun ruined my Sunday (assisted by JP, who pointed it out) by sneaking in a little note that the Caps could be sending Ben Clymer to hell.

I mean Pittsburgh. Oops.

Anyways, for whom, he doesn't say; from whom he heard this, also not mentioned. So it's your usual trade rumor, blah blah blah, and we take it with a grain of salt. Still, if this does turn out to be true it concerns me for two reasons:

1 - No good can come from making trades with the Penguins. I know Clymer is no Jagr (and thank god for that) but have we not learned our lesson from that fiasco? You know the saying - lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas and a $77 million dollar charge on you credit card.

2 - I think I may be in the minority among Caps fans, but I actually like Clymer.

For whatever reason, Clymer seems to have inspired the wrath of many and no one seems sad at the prospect of his leaving. People have painted him as the biggest liability on the team, railing on him constantly for reasons I have yet to pin down. I'm puzzled by his recent stretch of healthy scratches, especially considering the fact that I thought the two games before being banished to the press box were two of his better games this season

I know as Caps fans go, I tend to be blinder than most when faced with the negatives of players I like. I routinely turn a blind eye to Ben's abysmal +/- rating and his occasional tendency to whiff on a point shot. I look away when I see his numbers this year compared to last year, his tryout year.

I choose to focus instead on the positives he brings. For one thing, he seems to be a good locker room guy, which for a team where character is so important, that's key. He may not score a lot but he has a tendency to come up with that big goal at key moments, when you least expect it. He's consistently willing to stick up for teammates, dropping the gloves when necessary even when his opponent is much bigger.

And lest we forget, he's won a Stanley Cup. That's important. I believe, and correct me if I'm wrong, that the Caps have only one other person on the roster who has won it all, and that's Bryan Muir. Yup, that's right. Muir. A handful of others (Kolzig, Clark, and maybe a few others sprinkled in there) have made it to the Finals, but that's it. That experience, the knowledge of what it takes to win 16 postseason games, is worth a lot for a young team, most of whom have rarely experienced winning even 16 regular season games.

I get that on this roster, Clymer's type - the rugged hardworking forward who isn't a goal-scorer but who tries really hard - is literally a dime a dozen. I know that some people consistently call for the Caps to move one or more than one of these to free up roster spots for others. In my opinion, though, and take it for what its worth, you can never have too many of these guys on your payroll. Mixed in with the right formula of talent, it can be deadly.

Just look at the rosters of the last four teams to play in the Finals - Tampa Bay, Carolina, Edmonton, Calgary. They have their stars, to be sure. But look down the list of names of the guys who dressed during their playoff run and tell me how many of them you recognized at the time versus how many you know now. You need those guys, the ones in the trenches making room for your snipers and playmakers to work their magic.

I don't know. I'm hoping this isn't true, partly because I don't want to see a player I like don the hideous yellow and black of the flightless fowl, but mostly because I don't want to see him go anywhere. Not yet, at least.

As I write this, by the way, I have just finished watching Tampa Bay (Clymer's former team) hand the Pens (his rumored destination) yet another loss, 5-1.

I'm choosing to take that as a good omen.


hockeygirl said...

And lest we forget, he's won a Stanley Cup.

Gee, I was feeling sympathetic until this. Thanks. Thanks a lot.


CapsChick said...

Aw, sorry! You know I love the Flames! I knew not of Clymer when he was an evil Bolt, I swear... ;)

Anonymous said...

i read that rumor today and it made my stomach turn. i've really come to admire Ben Clymer for a lot of reasons you listed and i think he's an asset to the Caps. i can't for the life of me understand the negative feelings from other fans, especially about someone who works so hard and so unquestioningly looks out for his teammates. i may stand alone, but if it turns out to be more than a rumor, it is a move that will make me a little less inclined to cheer for the home team.

tzn said...

As always, your remarks are right on target. Ben Clymer is a player with grit, determination and class. He is serious and hardworking. He doesn't back down and certainly takes one for the team. His extended opportunity to look good in a suit lately is proof of that.
Unquestionably he has been the target of misguided frustrations. It seems there are a number of people out there not mentally capable of remembering from game to game that this is a young team. A building team that as a whole, does not bring the wealth of age and experience into a game that some other teams do. They gain experience with each game whether they win or not. I would like to see the complainers get off their couches and take to the ice.
As for his numbers... Anyone look at AO's +/-? It rots. Yes it is Ovie but he can't do everything himself. And Zubrus and Pettinger don't have much to write home about in that department either. What about the goals he has, there are a number of players getting ice time that have fewer. Up until this prolonged visit to limbo, he had played in the same number of games that Ovie had. Perhaps...this is just a chance to let the puppies catch up a bit. If not and come Tuesday this organization has shipped a stalwart backbone of a player like Ben off to Steel Town, I will be shopping for a Penguins jersey and won't feel the least bit abashed wearing it at the Verizon Center.

The Peerless said...

Here's a guy that's done what has been asked of him as best he can, given a solid effort most every night (even if the results have sometimes been difficult), and been a stand-up guy for the other guys on the roster. Not everyone is or needs to be a star to contribute. If he's not moved at the deadline, I hope he's one of those guys of whom it might be said, "the best trades are sometimes the ones you don't make."